Shatavari—also known as the Queen of herbs—is among the most important herbs in the ayurvedic healing tradition. Since ancient times, it has been used as a versatile female rejuvenating tonic for supporting and strengthening women at various stages of life. From menstruation and menopause to pregnancy and motherhood, shatavari is said to help women deal with all kinds of emotional issues and hormonal imbalances.
Shatavari literally means “the one with a hundred husbands” or “the one desired by many,” signifying its feminine charm and the ability to strengthen female reproductive organs. But this powerful rejuvenator is for both men and women. It is classified as an adaptogen and Rasayana herb, which means it promotes cellular rejuvenation and lowers stress at all levels. In ayurvedic medicine, shatavari is used both as a female vitality tonic and as a general health supplement for enhancing mental health and wellness, immunity, energy levels, digestion, and respiratory health.
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is rich in steroidal saponins, which are thought to be responsible for many of the herb’s beneficial effects. It helps balance Vata and Pitta doshas and slightly enhances Kapha.
Read on to explore all about shatavari and its numerous health benefits.
Shatavari Health Benefits and Traditional Uses
1. Mental and emotional wellness.
Shatavari belongs to the adaptogen class of herbs, which means it improves your ability to cope with physical, mental, psychological, and environmental stress. It has been historically used by students and working professionals to support learning and cognitive health.
Shatavari helps modulate serotonin and GABA neurotransmitters in the brain and works as a natural anxiolytic. Research shows that it helps lower cortisol levels, enhances mood, improves mental focus, encourages learning, and reduces the risk of depression.
Shatavari also has a calming effect on the central nervous system and can improve sleep quality. Its regular use has been shown to have a protective effect on brain cells. According to one study, saponins present in shatavari can protect neurons from the harmful effects of oxidative stress and inflammation and delay brain aging.
2. Healthy pregnancy and motherhood.
Most herbs and natural health supplements are considered high-risk in pregnancy, as they may stimulate the uterus and can potentially harm the fetus. Shatavari, on the other hand, can safely be used throughout pregnancy and is a boon for new mothers and babies.
Shatavari works in multiple ways to support healthy fetal growth and development.
- Nourishes the fetus. It provides plenty of prenatal vitamins and minerals required for the baby’s bone and neural development. Shatavari root powder is rich in folic acid, calcium, manganese, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K. Folic acid helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia and reduces the risk of birth abnormalities. In one study, shatavari mandur (a herbal preparation containing shatavari) was found to be twice as effective as iron-folic acid tablets in preventing iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy.
- Protects the fetus. Shatavari has antispasmodic, anti-oxytocic, and vasodilating properties that help control premature uterine contractions. Research suggests it prevents excessive stimulation of uterine muscles and reduces the risk of preterm labor.
- Helps manage symptoms. Being a natural anxiolytic and nervine tonic, shatavari helps manage pregnancy-related discomforts like mood swings, irritability, headaches, stress, fatigue, sadness, and anxiety. It also prevents digestion-related issues like dyspepsia and heartburn, which are major irritants at this time. Vitamin B6, a nutrient that is abundant in shatavari, is particularly useful and has been shown to ease symptoms of morning sickness.
3. Enhances breast milk production.
Shatavari has been used for centuries to facilitate physical and psychological recovery after childbirth. Being rich in antioxidants, it promotes cellular rejuvenation and helps rebuild immunity and strength. Its hormone-regulating properties also help minimize postpartum issues like hair loss, baby blues, insomnia, and skin changes.
Shatavari also acts as a natural galactagogue, which means it helps your body produce more and healthier food for your baby. Clinical trials have shown that oral supplementation with shatavari root can boost the production of prolactin—a hormone responsible for lactation and breast tissue development—by up to three times without triggering any toxic side effects.
Researchers have suggested that this may be due to the presence of steroidal saponins in the herb. Its mood-balancing and anti-stress properties may also play a role.
4. Boosts sexual and reproductive health.
In ayurvedic texts, shatavari has been described as an excellent tonic for female reproductive organs. It nourishes and strengthens the uterus and reduces inflammation of the endometrial walls.
A powerful internal moisturizer and antioxidant, shatavari soothes dry membranes and protects vaginal tissues from infections, swelling, and irritations. It is commonly prescribed for conditions like leucorrhea, abnormal vaginal bleeding, blocked fallopian tubes, frequent yeast infections, painful intercourse, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts.
Regular use of shatavari also helps maintain optimal moisture and pH levels of vaginal tissues, reducing the risk of fungal and bacterial infections. It is also a well-known aphrodisiac and enhances libido in both genders.
5. Helps correct menstrual disorders.
Menstrual disorders are extremely common and affect almost every aspect of a person’s well-being. From unnecessary pain and loss of productivity to a plethora of skin problems, unhealthy menstruation can seriously lower your overall quality of life.
Estimates suggest that about 75% of women worldwide suffer from some type of menstrual problem like irregular cycles, excessive bleeding, painful periods, missing periods, prolonged periods, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
In ayurvedic medicine, shatavari is considered an all-in-one solution for all kinds of period problems. Hormonal imbalances and psychological stress are the two most common factors responsible for menstrual abnormalities—and shatavari helps with both! Its regular use can help regulate estrogen levels, correct the cycle, and improve your stress resilience.
Shatavari also has anti-inflammatory effects and works as a uterine relaxant, which can help soothe abdominal cramps during periods. In one study, taking shatavari root powder daily for three months was remarkably effective in improving PMS symptoms like mood swings, poor concentration, breast tenderness, low mood, anxiety, sleep disturbance, joint pain, and muscle pain. Researchers found that these symptoms reappeared after discontinuing the treatment but were less severe than before.
6. Improves fertility and conception chances.
Shatavari is not only for females; it is also a powerful tonic for the male reproductive system. Regular intake of shatavari is often recommended when you and your partner are trying to get pregnant. It promotes fertility in both men and women and can improve the chances of conception in multiple ways.
Loaded with strong antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol, shatavari lowers oxidative stress in the body and supports healthy levels of male hormones. Evidence suggests it promotes spermatogenesis and increases sperm count and motility.
Shatavari also helps regulate the production of the luteinizing hormone, which plays a crucial role in triggering ovulation (in females) and sperm production (in males). Moreover, it increases the sensitivity of female genitalia and improves the secretion of cervical mucus to help the sperm reach the egg.
Research suggests that regular use of shatavari can help women deal with stress-induced hormonal fluctuations, PCOS, and infertility. It also helps produce healthy ova and prepares the womb for conception.
7. Improves skin elasticity and firmness.
Shatavari is a powerhouse of antioxidants and contains over 50 bioactive compounds, including saponins, glycosides, alkaloids, polysaccharides, racemosol, isoflavones, quercetin, kaempferol, and asparagamine. Antioxidants help fight free radical damage and prevent the oxidative breakdown of collagen and skin lipids, therefore slowing down environmental skin aging.
Being a powerful rejuvenator and Kapha-promoter, it naturally boosts collagen production, restores skin elasticity and firmness, and strengthens the protective barrier. Evidence suggests that compounds present in shatavari roots can prevent the formation of wrinkles and fine lines. It also promotes blood detoxification and helps control stress-related skin and hair issues like hair fall, acne breakouts, excessive sebum production, and allergic rashes.
8. Helps with menopausal symptoms.
A decrease in estrogen levels prior to menopause triggers a variety of health problems in women. It also causes loss of bone mineral density and muscle strength. Shatavari is naturally rich in phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds structurally or functionally similar to estrogen. These beneficial compounds can help control sharp hormonal fluctuations and reduce symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, sleep difficulties, fatigue, skin and hair problems, frequent headaches, migraines, vaginal dryness, and brain fog.
In a 2013 clinical trial, taking six grams of shatavari per day for 10 weeks helped reduce bone loss in perimenopausal women and reduced the risk of osteoporosis. In another 2021 study, shatavari supplementation improved muscle function in post-menopausal women.
Shatavari has long been used in ayurvedic medicine to support rejuvenation and mental wellness. It is generally considered safe for long-term use and is not known to cause any adverse health effects. However, it may trigger some unpleasant symptoms in persons who are allergic to the asparagus plant family.
Shatavari is widely available as powder, capsules, and tablets. If you are planning to use these supplements, consider speaking to your doctor about possible health risks and drug interactions.